Music:something half-sung and three-quarters ironic
Ready, Steady, Art
When I was watching the Hold Steady play at Plush in June, I kept recalling the Art Brut show at Plush the previous May. Eventually, I walked down a corridor inside my head, opened a door, and plopped myself down in a chair so I could contemplate the reasons my mind wanted to make this connection. I failed to register several Hold Steady songs as a consequence, but did return in time to catch the conclusion to their set. What I realized, in the interim, was that the two bands are eerily similar, despite superficial differences dictated by their geographical origin, because their respective singers, Craig Finn and Eddie Argos, perform as though they were not members of their bands, but fans of them. They remind me of the Who fan who famously got to fill in for an impossibly stoned Keith Moon at San Francisco's Cow Palace back in 1973. But that reminding is itself part of the illusion they skillfully conjure. Where Finn and Argos differ is that, while the former projects delight throughout the set, the latter manages to retain the aura of the fan who loves a band so much that he hates himself for loving the band, a complex emotional response that manifests itself in flickers of hostility dotting the landscape of bliss. I bring these thoughts up now because, not only are the Hold Steady and Art Brut going to be touring together, they are going to be coming to the Marquee Theater in Tempe, where I hope, barring injury or ill will, to pursue my reflections further.